Monday, August 16, 2010

Twitter Book Club: John Dewey (1938) Experience & Education, Ch 2

I love this quote. It is so instructive. It quite effectively implies that experience, or rather a series or schedule of experiences, can be planned and executed to induce learning; that intentional scaffolding of planned experiences can be a viable alternative pedagogy.

This quote makes me think of the the philosophy statements (or what most closely resembles the philosophy statements of "common core" charter schools presented by the Heritage Foundation as change. These schools present an uber-traditional schooling option when compared with more progressive charters, magnets, and even most traditional public schools today. There is no need for them to present a "consistently developed philosophy of education" beyond a few abstract words because our "great cultural heritage" (think Heritage Foundation influence here) and tradition does the heavy lifting in communicating their vision.

Knowledge is Power (KIPP) Schools Philosophy:

KIPP builds a partnership among parents, students, and teachers that puts learning first. By providing outstanding educators, more time in school learning, and a strong culture of achievement, KIPP is helping all students climb the mountain to and through college.

"Building partnership," "put learning first," "outstanding educators," "strong culture of achievement," and "climb the mountain," are all very abstract and vague. The only concrete statement that can be derived from their vision is "more time in school." Even the notion of what constitutes "learning" is left to culturally general interpretation.

Teach for America (TFA) core values:

Teach For America's core values reflect how we as an organization want our staff to operate, individually and collectively. Our core values are central to our culture and represent the style of operating that we believe to be critical for moving us most quickly and purposefully toward our goals.

  • Relentless pursuit of results: We assume personal responsibility for achieving ambitious, measurable results in pursuit of our vision. We persevere in the face of challenges, seek resources to ensure the best outcomes, and work toward our goals with a sense of purpose and urgency.
  • Sense of possibility: We approach our work with optimism, think boldly, and greet new ideas openly.
  • Disciplined thought: We think critically and strategically in search of the best answers and approaches, reflect on past experiences and data to draw lessons for the future, and make choices that are deeply rooted in our mission.
  • Respect and humility: We value all who are engaged in this challenging work. We keep in mind the limitations of our own experiences and actively seek out diverse perspectives.
  • Integrity: We ensure alignment between our actions and our beliefs, engage in honest self-scrutiny, and do what is right for the broader good.

This was the closest thing I could find on the TFA website resembling a philosophy or mission. They reference in their core values a "mission" and "our beliefs" but I could not find either listed anywhere on their site. This is what most closely resembles any kind of philosophy of education from TFA. All of this is extremely vague and relies so much on our cultural interpretations of phrases like, "achieving ambitious, measurable results in pursuit of our vision," "think critically and strategically," "make choices that are deeply rooted in our mission," "challenging work," and "do what is right for the broader good." In this case it seems they have gone out of their way to ensure vagueness.

The same is true for every other type of "reform school" alternative I have found that relies heavily on traditional methods and a "teach harder" approach. No explicit philosophy of learning or of how pedagogy relates to learning is present for any of these institutions. It is not needed because they present us with nothing new.

This reminds me of this statement by JFK regarding why we choose to go to the moon:

I choose to seek out the discovery of the simple and act upon it, "not because it is easy but because it is hard."



Mrs. Tenkely said...

Carl, it may just be me but I couldn't read the first 3 tweet quotes, they were sort of blacked out.
The last thought is one I wrote down. We choose not to do the thing that is easy, but the thing that is hard because that is where discovery happens.

Carl Anderson said...

Again, the links to TwitLonger tweets: